In Dave McMenamin’s recent article on Pau Gasol, he references the mindset that management had about planning for the future. That of course had to do with Dwight Howard and the hope that he would eventually become the face of the franchise. This was a long running conversation, basketball fans watched throughout the season as Gasol was benched at crucial moments, and as participants weighed in. With the departure of Dwight, there seems to be a new level of candor and opinion, from strategic on-court differences to management’s attempts to please.
I keep going back to the season. Gasol often talked about being able to work together, a hopeful sense that he and Dwight could succeed in tandem. They didn’t get that many chances due to the injury parade and rotation decisions but there was at least communication – Pau would speak quietly on court with L.A.’s next big thing, would be the first person waiting on the sidelines during a time out, trying to instill confidence. He was the consummate team player in that regard. Getting a bead on Howard was often trickier. He’s a guy with an easy smile who likes to be loved and wants to be humored. He’s sowed a few seeds of dissension in his time. Superstars can be like that. Ultimately all I really know is that I look forward to the Lakers get-togethers with Houston this season. I only wish Metta was still with the team.
With the NBA schedule out, Brett Pollakoff for ProBasketballTalk looks at how media market size plays into the number of nationally televised games for each team. In other words, why the Lakers will get more face time than the Heat.
If you missed it last week, check it out now: Steve Nash chatted, pretty candidly, I’d add, with Zach Lowe of Grantland and talked last season, playing next to Kobe, Dwight’s departure, and more.
The Mad Dog has returned to the Lakers as an assistant coach and he recently sat down with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com in a wide ranging interview. Madsen discussed many topics, but a few of his comments about playing with Kobe Bryant stood out to me. One example:
I’m grateful to have had Kobe as a teammate, because he helped me grow. There were times when he put his arm around me after a tough loss, and other times where he pushed me to be the best I could be. I think he has a nice combination of knowing when to pat somebody on the back, and when to get after somebody. I was a better player because of Kobe. His talent speaks for itself as one of the best to ever play basketball, but I think his leadership is extremely strong. You don’t win the five championships he’s won without being a great leader. He leads vocally and by example. You’re going to find very few players out there as great as Kobe is who also study film, who study opponents, who study other team’s sets. When he’s on the court, he has scripted ways he can take advantage of other team’s sets.
One of the more interesting recent basketball stories has been that of Royce White, a rookie who hasn’t played much and who battled famously with general anxiety disorder as well as the team that drafted him. The Houston Rockets traded White to Philly this summer as part of the general house cleaning that prefaced Dwight Howard’s arrival. The Kamenetzky Brothers devote a terrific podcast to the young player’s story.
Dialing back to last November is a piece by Dan Devine for Ball Don’t Lie that is filled with memorable lines about all things swaggy.
Now look forward a year and envision the Lakers basking in their free agent riches. Or at least read about the idea that a certain forward in New York area could relocate to the west coast due to a closing window with his current team. I don’t link to this because it’s necessarily newsworthy, but more because we should all get used to this type of thing. It will be a topic of discussion for the next 10 months or so.
And this, Kelly Dwyer’s Ball Don’t Lie article from Monday, which is all things Rambis and D’Antoni and fraught with potential pitfalls. Personally, I can’t get past the picture of Kurt in a giant rocking chair.
When I chat with non-Laker fans lately I hear about how much our season’s gonna suck, or “y’all are gonna tank, right?” A lot of Laker fans I know aren’t really taking the bait. We kind of like the roster moves since Dwight had his mountain summit and exited stage left. We’re mindful of the often fragile health of our players, of the combination of older veterans and younger unproven projects.
It will interesting to see how things work with Kaman. We welcome the return of Jordan Farmar. Nick Young could be both fun and nerve-wracking to watch, we’re curious whether Wesley Johnson can finally deliver on his potential. We’re hoping that Kobe will return sound, that Pau and Nash will have good health and good seasons. We want solid work from Jordan Hill and Steve Blake and Josie Meeks, further development from Robert Sacre. We want to see Ryan Kelly stretch the floor. We’ll watch and see what happens with the basketball journeys of Elias Harris and Marcus Landry.
Lakers fans aren’t talking rings or dynasties this summer. How could you when the squad’s mostly made up of expiring contracts and one-year auditions? But, there will be a season and a sense of hope that it could be fun. There won’t be the same expectations game and there won’t be a sword hanging over the head coach’s head, at least not in the short term. And if nothing else you’ve got Kobe Bryant, returning after a frustrating season and a devastating injury. As has been the case in each and every one of his previous 17 seasons, he’ll come in just a little fired up and ready to go.
Pau has been a class act over the last 3 years. He certainly is a little sensitive and a big time crybaby on the court (especially when he gets tossed around by bigger players), but he has always made an effort with other bigs to get them going. He was a fantastic passer last year, setting up Dwight a lot. He sometimes is almost too unselfish, but he’s really been a great asset in the locker room. He deserves more credit than I’ve given him in the past.
And I thought he tried to take the high road with D’Antoni. It was such a stupid, rookie coaching move by MDA. It just shows you how stubborn he is and it’s one his many flaws.
I hope the beast we saw during the Olympics shows up this year. If he doesn’t return after this year, I certainly hope he has a stellar year with the lakers.
Portland just signed Mo Williams – 2 years 5.6 Million – meanwhile steve blake is making over 4 mill per year.
1-10 next year we could be really strong if we can get guys like mo williams for 2 million
I think Portland will definitely be in the playoffs next year.
All I know is that I am going to do everything in my power to buy a ticket for the game ten years from now when Pau’s jersey is retired to the rafters. It seems to be forgotten, but the man was the second best player on a two time champion, three time Finals participant team. He’s been all class all the time and, in my opinion, he deserves the ultimate honor, a retired Lakers’ jersey one day down the road.
I’ve always loved Pau because he’s the ultimate team guy. In the midst of constant trade rumors and blatant disrespect, he continues to give Laker fans everything they could want from a player. Hopefully this year more people will appreciate how good he truly is and show Pau some love.
Pau deserves enormous credit for his career here–in addition to the consistent overall work, he outplayed Howard in 2009 and outplayed Garnett in Game 7 in 2010, and has mostly handled the post-Veto fallout very well.
Whatever he does in 2014, he has earned a permanent spot in Lakers history.
The Dane says
How about the Lakers take on Roye White from the Rockets. Then settle on some rules with him and let him take the bus once in a while. He might prove to be a great pickup and could benefit from the locker room with all the great vets the Lakers have.
EDIT: Woops, just realised Philly took that risk already… not on top of all the news in the off season.
Pau is simply the best, most productive 4 to ever wear a Laker uniform. Unfortunately too many Laker “fans” didn’t or couldn’t appreciate his game. His #16 will hang from the Laker rafters one day.
It´s good to see that some of my favorite commenters, i.e. BigCity, rr & Triangle, along with you other fellas, have given Pau his props.
another in a series of nice write-ups (& links)! thanks dude.
Dave Murphy says
Agree with all above – it’s great to see the support for Pau.
(and thanks PB!)
Pau has been under appreciated for years. It was the front-court tandom of Odom and Gasol that won titles for the Lakers. After the decline and departure of Odom, the Lakers went to Bynum and then Dwight to add depth. The Lakers already had a great Center but have never replaced the skill set lost at PF. I hope someday Pau does get his jersey retired. He really has been a class act.
Renato Afonso says
Some people argue that Pau wasn’t with the Lakers for the first half of his NBA career, but even in these 6? years he has proven to be not only a great player but also a class act. Remember that his arrival instantly made us a contender in 08, netted us two titles in 09 and 10 and kept us in the run in 11 and 12. If Silk has a retired jersey, then most certainly Pau will as well. He will be the first european-born player in our rafters and the one with more international trophies, for sure. It will be an honour for him to have his jersey retired and it will be an honour for us to see his jersey up there.
My guess? Both Kobe and Pau will take a discount next year and will both retire from the Lakers when the next contract expires…
I have always admired Pau’s skill set as a basketball player in Memphis and with the Lakers. My problem with Pau has been that his body is incapable of playing in the NBA and playing for his home country. The NBA is a different beast than when Pau played his first game for Memphis. In the NBA players in the paint have to lift weight s during the off season in order to sustain roles in the front court. All I have ever wanted Pau to do is hit the weights to build up his body.
Pau is a member of the Lakers now and forever!